2002 Saturn SL1 Ignition key and intermittent starting prob

  • 2002 SATURN SL1
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • 115,000 MILES

For the past year I've had intermittent starting problems with my car. It starts just fine when its cold out or hasn't been driven for a while but, once the engine is warm, if I have to make multiple stops in a short period of time (running errands after work), the car will not start. If I let the car sit for 20-30 min. The car will then start. This happens more often in the summer than winter. When the car doesn't start, the lights on the dash will still come on but nothing cranks or it will crank but once I let go of the key the car will stop unless I keep my foot on the gas pedal.

The other issue that I think is related is that every 3-4 months I have to replace my ignition key because it's worn down. When I take the key out of the ignition, the key is super hot. I'm thinking there must be something wrong electrically that's heating up the ignition area

I've taken it to 4 garages already. The car actually died when the last mechanic looked at it and he told me that the fuel filter was completely clogged and that there was something wrong with the fuel filter. So, I had those replaced. That was a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, when I drove home, parked the car for about 2 hours and came back out, the car didn't start again.

Today I took it to the Saturn dealer one more time. I really can't afford replacing things when they don't need to be. Well, the car died and they told me it was the starter.

I'm just having a hard time believing this. Would a problem with the starter cause the ignition key to be wearing down? Could it cause a heat build up of some kind?

I'm hoping someone knowledgable can help me. I truly believe that when some people see a woman coming, it's like a blank check.

Thank you for ANY help you can provide.
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Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 AT 3:43 PM

1 Reply



Let's start with your starter not turning the engine over when the engine is hot?If that's true then the most likely cause would be a bad starter of course when this happened i would make sure the starter was getting power and if it was then bad starter.Now you also said that even when the starter work's that some time's you have to hold your foot to the floor to keep it running or it will die.With that concern i would replace your coolant temp sensor it's probably reading too cold when you have a hot engine and the engine is getting too much fuel.Those sensor's are only like 10 make sure you get a brass tipped one the plastic tipped one's crack.Also inspect the connector going to it if it's corroded then replace the connector as well.The coolant temp sensor screw's into the head i posted a diagram of where it is.Make sure the engine is cold when changing it and you will loose coolant.Now let's talk about your key getting worn down every 3-4 month's are just making a copy of the old worn out key?If so there's your problem if your just copying the old worn out key the new key is just a worn out key too.What you need to do if you haven't already done is go to the saturn dealer and have them make you a fresh key from your factory key code they will punch out a brand new key not a copy of your worn out one.Now let's talk about your key getting really hot there really isn't anything in your ignition housing to get hot.You have your ignition switch if that was getting that hot it would melt or burn out it's housing is made of plastic and you would smell it burning.The only other electrical thing going to your ignition housing is your pass lock sensor for your security system.If that was getting that hot your car would only crank and not start and your security light would be flashing.I have never had that concern of a hot key on the S model saturn.I have only had it on the L model which on that car there is something attached to the ignition housing that get's really hot.Now on your fuel filter they get changed every 100,000 mile's and by a 100,000 mile's there pretty restricted.There is also your fuel pressure regulator built into the fuel filter so maybe he was saying that was bad.I hope all this information help's you out i worked for saturn as a service tech for over 16 years so i know your car inside and out.Let me know what you find and if you have anymore question's.
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Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 AT 4:55 PM

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